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9 Dec, 2020 23:45

Upstart media outlet Newsmax BEATS FOX for the first time as conservative viewers punish top cable giant for turning against Trump

Upstart media outlet Newsmax BEATS FOX for the first time as conservative viewers punish top cable giant for turning against Trump

Newsmax TV, a cable outlet that was obscure until recent months, has overtaken Fox News in one time slot for the first time by attracting conservatives who were alienated by the industry leader's perceived anti-Trump coverage.

Newsmax's Greg Kelly Reports program had 229,000 viewers in the key 25- to 54-year-old demographic on Monday, surpassing the 203,000 who watched The Story With Martha MacCallum on Fox, CNN reported, citing Nielsen ratings data. The figures don't include Newsmax's livestreaming audience on the internet, which is substantial.

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The victory was only in the 7pm New York time slot – and in the demographic that is the key metric used in selling commercial time – but it marked an astounding shift in an industry where Fox News has dominated the ratings for 18 straight years. It also demonstrated the loyalty of President Donald Trump's supporters, even after Democrat Joe Biden's media-declared victory in the November 3 presidential election.

Trump has been complaining for months about news coverage by Fox that he perceives as increasingly hostile. He blasted Fox in July, telling his 88 million Twitter followers that they should watch Newsmax and One America News instead.

His relationship with Fox deteriorated further when host Chris Wallace moderated Trump's first presidential debate with Biden on September 29. At one point, Trump told Wallace, “I guess I'm debating you, not him.” Even current and former Fox colleagues criticized Wallace for being biased against Trump.

But perhaps the biggest perceived sin came on election night, when Fox was the first major network to declare that Biden had defeated Trump in Arizona. The race was so close that it wasn't called by AP and other news organizations until 10 days after Election Day. Biden led the official count by just 0.3 percent, or fewer than 11,000 votes. When Trump supporters gathered outside a ballot-counting office in Phoenix the night after the election, they chanted, “Fox News sucks!”

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Newsmax host Greg Kelly's show had just 10,000 viewers in the 25-54 demographic before the election. His overall audience reportedly jumped almost 10-fold, to 949,000 on Monday night.

Former NBC Universal executive Mike Sington called the shift in conservative television viewership “kind of major.” But CNN host Don Lemon speculated on Tuesday night that Fox will regain its clear leadership in right-wing viewership over the next few months because competition for that audience will “moderate.” He added, “Newsmax will be Newsmax, but it won't be as powerful as Fox News. It will never be as powerful as Fox News.”

But New York Post writer Jon Levine suggested that CNN is missing the bigger point: Lemon's own network is headed for fourth place in the ratings – behind Fox, MSNBC and Newsmax. One Twitter commenter theorized that rather than competing directly with Newsmax, Fox is aiming more for CNN's former audience: “Fox News is done as a conservative-leaning network. They've moved too far to the left in their attempts to fill the void left by CNN, who has now basically become propaganda media arm of the Democrats.”

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